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How-t Setup a POS System

Restaurants, retailers, hotels, and service providers use point-of-sale (POS) systems to handle customer transactions as well as backend features like inventory management and analytics reporting. For new small businesses, setting up a POS system can be as easy as downloading an app. For more complex businesses, setting up a POS system may require professional installation.

pos hardware

iPad pos hardware for retail

1. Choose a POS System

The first step to take when determining how to set up a POS system is to pick the right POS for your small business. Each POS has unique features specifically tailored to different business needs. Whether you are a retailer, restaurant, hotel, or service provider, you’ll want to choose a POS with features that are specific to your business model. POS systems also operate on different types of hardware and have varying pricing models. The right POS system for your business also depends on your budget and preferred hardware.

Evaluate Industry-specific Features

Start by understanding which features are built for your business type. For example, retail POS systems will have features to manage complex inventories including product variations and barcodes. Restaurants will need a POS system that can take customer orders, split checks, and manage tables. Service providers will need a system that can handle appointments or invoice.

Retailers should look for a POS system with:

  1. Inventory management: Track inventory in real-time as it is sold, including variants like sizes and colors, and easily reorder items as needed.

  2. Multiple payment options: In addition to cash and credit cards, retailers need options for eWallet payments, store credit, refunds, and alternative payment options like PayPal.

  3. Multichannel: Retailers that also sell online or at events need a POS that can connect with other sales channels.

  4. Customer relationship management: Create customer profiles with contact information and purchase history to use for email marketing and loyalty programs.

Restaurants should look for a POS system with:

  1. Table mapping: Create floor plans for your dining room to track guests and open tables including their servers, orders, and how long they have been seated.

  2. Menu management: Enter menus with pricing and recipes for different meals, days of the week, and special discounts like Happy Hour.

  3. Ingredient-level inventory management: Track stock levels as each dish is sold and prepared.

  4. Split checks and tipping: Servers need to be able to easily split checks multiple ways and let guests add tips.

  5. Customer relationship management: Create customer profiles with contact information.

point-of-sale system for restaurant

Restaurants need an industry-specific POS, like Eats365 that has table mapping, tableside ordering, and a kitchen display system

Hotels should look for a POS system with:

  1. Booking integration: The ability to manage room reservations or integrate with third-party booking software.

  2. Event organization: Manage events and rentals for ballrooms and conference spaces.

  3. Guest feedback and surveys: Send and collect surveys after each guest’s stay.

Service providers should look for a POS system with:

  1. Appointment management: Customers need to be able to book appointments, service providers need to be able to manage their calendars and sync appointments to a payment processor.

  2. Retail sales: Service providers like spas and salons also need to be able to process retail sales.

  3. Online booking: Customers need to be able to log in to their accounts and book appointments online.

  4. Invoicing: Some service providers, like mechanics, cleaning agencies, and repair people need to be able to generate invoices for appointments.

Consider Hardware and Compatibility Issues

If you’re an established business, you’ve likely already made investments in other hardware and software to manage day-to-day operations. When choosing a POS system, you want to find one that will seamlessly fit in with the rest of your existing technology, so be sure to check integrations and compatibility before you invest in a POS.

For new businesses, make sure you are choosing a system that you are comfortable with and find easy to use. For example, if you are familiar with the iOS operating system because you use an iPhone, you might be best-suited with an app-based POS that runs on iPads. Or, if you prefer a desktop computer, consider a browser-based POS system.

Should You Rent or Lease POS Hardware?

The option to lease a POS system is attractive: it offers lower upfront costs, reduced ongoing fees, and you get to return the products when you’re finished. However, if you crunch the numbers, renting hardware doesn’t always save you money in the long run. When you purchase the hardware outright, this is a business investment—you own the POS equipment and can sell it when you’re finished with it.

If you want to own your POS system, but want lower upfront costs, there is a third option. Some POS companies will offer payment plans or installment payment options. That means you can pay for the product over time with monthly fees and still own the hardware.

2. Decide Between DIY and Professional Installation

After choosing a POS system, you’ll need to get the hardware and software up and running. Choosing between installing the POS yourself and hiring a professional to do it for you comes down to your resources. Booking a professional installation typically comes with an extra price tag, while doing it yourself requires technical know-how.

When to Have a POS System Professionally Installed

If you have room in the budget, it’s a good idea to have your POS system professionally installed. This is especially true for small businesses with lots of customization, integration, and add-on needs. Larger and multi-location businesses are also wise to enlist a professional.

Pros of hiring a professional:

  1. Accuracy: When a POS system is professionally installed, you can be sure the setup is done correctly.

  2. Training: Professional installations typically come with training for you and your team.

  3. Data entry: For retailers with lots of SKUs and product information, or restaurants with recipes, ingredients, and menus, professional installation usually includes entry and setup for inventory items and tracking.

Cons of hiring a professional:

  1. Additional costs: There’s often an added cost for professional installation, typically $500 or more.

  2. Scheduling: You have to wait to schedule an appointment instead of setting up the POS on your own time.

When to Install a POS System Yourself

For starters, if you don’t have money to fund a professional installation, you might be looking at doing it yourself. However, there are also times when it makes sense to install the system yourself.

For example, if you’re getting started with a base package, you’ll likely be able to plug and play. If you have a single-location small business, there won’t be many customizations, so the setup is more straightforward than for a chain store or a large restaurant. Plus, many POS systems have robust content libraries to help users get up and running.

Pros of installing a POS system yourself:

  1. Learning the system: You really get to know the software and how to use it by setting up the system yourself.

  2. Lower costs: You’ll save money on any associated installation fees by setting up the system yourself.

Cons of installing a POS system yourself:

  1. Complications: It could take longer to set up the system than you had initially planned.

  2. Room for error: You might set it up incorrectly.

  3. Missing features: By setting the system up yourself, it’s possible you will overlook some features or functionality of the system.